Being a nanny isn’t a real job. Working as a nanny is like working in any other job. The nanny is legally required to pay taxes, she receives a W-2 at the end of the year, she’s entitled to workers compensation if she’s hurt on the job and she can receive unemployment benefits if she’s fired from the job. It’s standard in the nanny industry for full-time nannies to get two weeks of paid vacation each year, paid federal holidays, and yearly bonuses. Plus nanny jobs are often the highest paid childcare providers in the United States when compared with daycare workers and preschool teachers.
Being a nanny is something pretty much anyone can do. Technically this is true since there are no legal requirements for working as a nanny; however providing quality in-home childcare requires experience, training, a specialized skill set, and specific personality traits.
Nannies don’t just babysit the children they care for, and they do far more than just provide custodial care; they keep a child safe and entertained. They care for the whole child, meaning every day they focus on providing for a child’s physical, emotional, social, and educational development. They also provide household support by handling many of the tasks related to children such as meal preparation, laundry, and organization.
When you look at what it takes to provide consistent, quality childcare and effective support to the parents, it’s easy to see that it takes a special person to be a successful nanny.
A nanny must wear a uniform, live with their employers, be available 24/7, cook, clean, sew, and do whatever else their family needs. Movies, television shows, and books have given us a lot of different models of what a nanny is and what she does. Unfortunately, most of them don’t reflect the real job of a modern nanny. Most nannies don’t wear a uniform to work. Those that do can usually be seen in khakis and a polo shirt rather than a matronly dress. The majority of nannies don’t live with their employers. They have their own homes and their own lives. While some executive positions require a nanny to be available whenever the family needs help, most nannies work a regular schedule of 8 to 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. And the standard job description of a nanny only includes child-related tasks, like cooking healthy meals for the children, doing the kids’ laundry, and keeping the play room clean. Some nannies take on additional duties, but they’re paid extra for it.
Nanny employers are rich, shallow, uninvolved parents who don’t want to deal with their own children. While a few parents may fit that description, the overwhelming majority of parents that choose nanny care do so because they want the very best care for their children. While they have the financial advantage of being able to afford a nanny, they still face the same challenges other parents face; parenting is hard even if you have a devoted caregiver at home. Nanny employers are actively involved in their children’s lives, they worry about being a good enough parent, and they struggle to fill all their life roles: parent, child, spouse, employee, friend, neighbor, and community member.
Nannies have to pass a criminal background check to work with children. There are no legal requirements for a nanny to pass any type of background check, criminal or otherwise, before working as a nanny. The majority of nanny placement agencies perform a comprehensive background check before placing a nanny and many parents run a check before hiring a nanny on their own. Unfortunately, there isn’t an industry standard for background checks so it’s up to parents to wade through the information available and figure out what checks are necessary.
The state of California has implemented TrustLine, a state-wide verification system that requires childcare providers to be cleared through a fingerprint check of records at the California Department of Justice. Nanny placement agencies that place nannies in CA are required to register their placed nannies with TrustLine. However nannies who find work outside of an agency (e.g. Care.com, online classifieds, word of mouth) are not required to be registered with TrustLine.
Nannies have basic safety and child development training. Actually, there are no training requirements for working as a nanny. While they of course should be, nannies don’t even have to have CPR / first aid certifications to secure a position. That’s why parents must talk about training during the interview process. Find out what type of training your potential nanny currently has and what she’s committed to doing once on the job. Training is the key to being a quality caregiver.
Nannies and nanny employers don’t always resemble the people depicted in TV shows, movies, and books. However the realities of the nanny profession are just as interesting.
P.S. This post was proposed to me for publication by Kathleen Crislip. I'm therefore publishing it by her invitation and under her permission. See also the link below fore more information: